Every season has its own character. Fall brings the start of school, winter ushers in the holidays, spring brings flowers and new life, and summer means vacation or time away from the office for many of us.
In Niger, the four seasons mean something else. There's the dry season, the hot season, the rainy season and the hungry season. In a year following a poor harvest, the hungry season can begin as early as February and stretch all the way to October. The hungry season brings many hard choices for families: How do we feed our children and meet other needs? Do I leave my family to find work?
Habibou Alassane struggles with those questions regularly. He and his wife and their nine children are farmers in a remote Nigerien village. Previously when the hungry season came, Habibou had to travel to find work and feed his family. But now, for the first time in 15 years, Habibou is home. He and other farmers are part of the CRS Bonbatu project, for which they dig reservoirs. The work provides income, while the reservoirs provide water for crops and livestock.
Habibou's story is featured as part of our annual Lenten CRS Rice Bowl campaign. CRS Rice Bowl is celebrating 40 years of faithful reflection and feeding the hungry through prayer, fasting and almsgiving. During Lent we pray for people like Habibou all over the world who are experiencing difficult times. We give things up or fast as a reminder of our strong relationship with God and our solidarity with the poor. Our fasting reminds us of people like Habibou, who faces food scarcity daily. Finally, we are called to give alms and care to our neighbors in need. Those neighbors can be next door or across the globe, like Habibou.
This Lenten season we invite you to put your faith into action by participating in CRS Rice Bowl. We'll share stories of hope like Habibou's and provide additional resources, reflections and recipes for simple meals so you and your family can find meaning in Lent while living in solidarity with the people we serve. You may put your Lenten offerings in a CRS Rice Bowl or donate online.
This season Habibou, his family and many others are benefiting from CRS programming you support through CRS Rice Bowl. Last year, our Bonbatu project distributed seeds to 4,176 households, provided income-generating projects and grants to 2,400 individuals, and distributed small livestock to 2,000 women.
Bonbatu means "I become stronger" in Zarma, a local language. Thanks to you and your Lenten observance through CRS Rice Bowl, Habibou's hungry season does not exist this year. His family is stronger. What you give up for Lent changes lives for the better, including your own.